JAKARTA — Ford Motor Co. has entered a new deal for sustainable nickel production in Indonesia that will help make electric vehicle batteries more affordable. PT Vale Indonesia Tbk and China’s Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co. today announced an agreement with Ford Motor Co. to create a three-party collaboration of equity investments in the Pomalaa Block High-Pressure Acid Leaching (HPAL) Project.
Ford is building a $5.8 billion electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Glendale, Ky., along I-65 in Hardin County that is expected to go into production in 2025 and create 5,000 permanent jobs. BlueOvalSK Park is Ford’s largest single investment in company history and the largest project in Kentucky history.
The three-way nickel processing project — together with a separate supply agreement under development with Ford and Huayou for a precursor cathode active material critical to manufacturing lithium-ion batteries — collectively will combine with Ford’s other sourced nickel, significantly contributing to support its EV production targets by the end of 2026.
“This framework gives Ford direct control to source the nickel we need – in one of the industry’s lowest-cost ways – and allows us to ensure the nickel is mined in line with our company’s sustainability targets, setting the right ESG standards as we scale,” said Lisa Drake, vice president for Ford Model e EV industrialization. “Working this way puts Ford in a position to help make EVs more accessible for millions and to do it in a way that helps better protect people and the planet.”
Indonesia President Joko Widodo participated in a ceremony today announcing the deal. The Pomalaa Block HPAL Project will process ore provided by PT Vale Indonesia from its Pomalaa Block mine to produce mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP), a lower-cost nickel product used in EV batteries with nickel-rich cathodes.
This HPAL plant will operate under PT Kolaka Nickel Indonesia in the Pomalaa Block nickel industrial area in Kolaka, Southwest Sulawesi, Indonesia. Subject to regulatory approval, the project could produce up to 120 kilotons per year of contained nickel in the form of (MHP).
Pomalaa Block HPAL Project early site preparations have already started, and full construction is expected to start this year, with commercial operations beginning in 2026. The collaboration will deliver materials essential for the auto industry’s shift to EVs, enhance Indonesia’s EV manufacturing industry and support Ford’s plan to deliver a 2 million EV production run rate by the end of 2026 and further scale over time.
“This agreement shows it’s not just about what we mine – but how we do it,” said Febriany Eddy, PT Vale Indonesia CEO. “We embed our environmental, social and governance standards into everything we do, and the result is a unique collaboration with global automaker Ford and leading global mineral processor Huayou to jointly invest in this project. This global co-operation is in line with Indonesia’s vision to build a domestic EV ecosystem and makes PT Vale an important contributor toward addressing the world’s decarbonization challenge, with an investment that will generate local economic benefits and ensure the optimal utilization of Indonesia’s nickel resources.”
This agreement is the continuation of PT Vale Indonesia’s Pomalaa Block ground-breaking last November. This block is a National Strategic Project with an investment of up to Indonesian rupiah 67.5 trillion and is expected to generate 12,000 construction jobs.
“Huayou is a technology-driven enterprise, and a leading manufacturer of green, low carbon, high ESG standard new energy battery materials. This strategic cooperation is one of the flagship projects under the Belt and Road Initiative and Global Maritime Fulcrum synergy, also links Indonesia nickel and cobalt resources to EV makers via Huayou’s advanced capability and HPAL technology, is a great business model of EV value chain and will make a splendid contribution to the EV industry ecology development of Indonesia. The MHP produced in this project will be processed further into nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate Li-ion battery materials, and ternary PCAM,” Dr. George Fang, Senior Vice President of Huayou, said. “The joint efforts of three parties aims to create a very positive influence on the economy and social development of Indonesia as well as the global EV industry and its supply chain.”
The project was inaugurated by the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. During his speech, Minister Luhut said Pomalaa Block is the stepping stone for Indonesia to be recognized as a high-quality mineral producer for the global EV ecosystem.
Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC is serving as Ford’s financial advisor in connection with this transaction, while Standard Chartered is providing similar services for Huayou.